• Chapter 66: The Battle of Rumaila

    March 2, 2016
  • "The Battle of the Junkyard"

    We were too far north in Kuwait to get any mail so it would be a few days. Because there was still some Iraqi resistance, the mail was not being delivered to us yet. Today was, however, the last day any shots were fired. The following information comes from another author:

    The Hammurabi Division attempted a breakout and engaged the 1st Brigade of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division. It would be known as "The Battle of Rumaila" or "The Battle of the Junkyard," and would become the last battle of the war. It started at 0445 when task force air scouts reported heavy vehicle movement in the narrow corridor between PL CRUSH and Basrah. Then at 0720, two dozen tanks and five BMPs were spotted moving north toward Hawr al Hamar causeway. By this time a couple hundred vehicles had already crossed the causeway.

    What was left of the Republican Guard Hammurabi Division and remnants of other defeated units were trying to escape over the elevated roadways through the marshlands of the Rumaila oil fields and then across the Hawr al Hammar Causeway. Colonel LeMoyne, 1st Brigade's commander, immediately called for Air Cavalry Troop support. Within ten minutes, the Air Cavalry helicopters were hovering overhead awaiting orders. Colonel LeMoyne sent the troop north of the causeway to block the escape route. Next he ordered the brigade to advance on the retreating Iraqis, two battalions side by side, with TF 3-7 Infantry in the north and TF 2-7 Infantry in the south. LeMoyne held 4-64 Armor in reserve.

    At 0807, Iraqis fired RPGs at the advancing scouts of 2-7 Infantry. 2-7 held its fire and continued to close in on the Iraqis. The RPG team who had fired on the scouts surrendered immediately. As the scouts moved to collect the prisoners, BMPs and T-72s opened fire. BIG MISTAKE!!! 1st Brigade was cleared to return fire. The soldiers in both lead battalions opened fire with their full fury. North of the causeway, the Air Cavalry Troop took out the lead vehicles at the northern end of the elevated road blocking any further movement across the lake. Five artillery battalions pounded the causeway and other escape routes to the south virtually trapping the remaining five hundred vehicles in the Rumaila oil field.

    An Apache company swooped in next, at 0850, and attacked the stalled columns. They fired one hundred seven Hellfire missiles, scoring one hundred two direct hits. Next Colonel LeMoyne ordered 4-64 to swing into battle from the south at 0945. As 4-64 was moving south into position, Colonel LeMoyne and General McCaffrey joined the armored battalion with their mobile command posts. At 1030, 4-64 attacked south to north along the full length of the enemy columns.

    4-64;s Team Alpha rolled into the Rumaila oil field along the elevated roadways, in column formation. They moved north with the rest of the battalion, methodically destroying Iraqi vehicles that had survived the Apache attack. About two miles into the oil field, 2nd Platoon attacked two large abandoned trucks. When 2-1 opened up on the trucks with COAX machine gun fire, it instantly exploded into a giant fireball. The flames engulfed the second truck causing it to erupt in flames as well. The trucks were hauling some kind of missiles whose rocket motors began to ignite. The extreme heat quickly consumed a nearby Abrams tank. Inside 2-2, the crew closed the main ammo door as the halon fire extinguisher went off. The tank continued to burn as 2-2's crew scrambled out and jumped in a nearby trench. Fortunately none of the crew was seriously injured, but the tank was a total loss.

    By 1500, American soldiers had reached the southern banks of the Hawr al Hammer only to find abandoned armored vehicles, some with their engines still running, and the lake's shore littered with boots and personal combat gear that soldiers had shed to swim across the lake to safety. The last shot of the war had been fired, but not before 1st Brigade had destroyed one hundred eighty seven armored vehicles, thirty four artillery pieces, over four hundred wheeled vehicles and nine multiple rocket launchers.

    2-4 gunner, Sergeant Dennis Sprangler, still had the silk bouquet of violets, a piece of home, dangling above his gun sights. They had provided a little sanity, a little memory of his hometown, and a recollection of peace to Sprangler as he fought his way across the Iraqi wasteland. He stared up at the flowers and thought about going home.

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